Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 37: Rules are Rules

I sigh against the door, feeling utterly deflated. It’s been a hell of a long day -you know, breakup and all that- and all I want to do is to attack the bed and go to sleep.

As I cross the kitchen, the eerie silence coils around me, causing a small chill to run down my spine. The lights are dim, and nothing looks like it has been touched, so I’m guessing Daniel hasn’t come back home yet. My bad mood turns even sour.

I check the house phone for voice mails, and notice that I have one. As I listen to it, my heart pounds against my chest in a wild manner.

It’s from my father.

Beep.

Hello Alexandria, ummm... It’s your father here. Before you delete this voice mail, I just want to say that I’m really sorry how things turned out between us during the engagement party. It’s been a long time since your mom and I last heard from you. I know you’re still mad at us, and now I understand why. I would want to talk to you.. If you let me. Perhaps we should talk over thanksgiving. Your mom and I are taking a break from work and we’re gonna do the whole... turkey- dinner- gathering... thing. And we would really like for you to join us before I... Um. Yeah. It would make our day- no, our year. Call us back okay? We miss you. I miss you. So much.

Beep.

Tears start to glisten in my eyes again. God, I hate crying. And I have been doing a lot of that lately.

Of all the times my parents decided to contact me, it’s now. What a bad timing. But... It’s true what my dad said. I haven’t spoken to them for about a month. I have never gone that long before not talking to them. And a part me wants to pick up the phone right now and call them. My hand hovers over the phone, my fingers itching to dial the number.

I miss them. I do. And perhaps I was a bit bratty about how I handled things with them. But, can you blame me? I had been hurt by them countless of times. I only want to protect my heart- or perhaps, what’s left of it. I don’t ever want to get hurt again.

Maybe... maybe... I’ve been trying to protect myself for so long I didn’t stop once to think that I was pushing people away.

I even pushed Daniel away.

I think that’s one of the mistakes I’ll never forgive myself for.

I retreat my hand from the phone, telling myself that I will call my parents tomorrow and sort things out. I need to rest my head. A shit load of things has happened today and for a moment, I really need to relax.

I have no chill. Seriously.

After taking a quick shower, I slip into my pyjamas and head off to bed. Just as I’m about to turn off the lights, I hear the front door downstairs burst open.

What the fuck?

Taking the bat I had hid under my bed in case of a break in, I tip toe towards my door, slowing inching it open. My heart slams against my chest wildly. My grip on my bat tightens as I hear noises echoing through the living room.

Crap. Should I call the police?

“Brittany...” A deep male voice says, and my eyes widen. It’s Daniel.

“Shhhhh. Let me make you feel better.” An unfamiliar female voice sounds.

Are. You. Kidding. Me. Right. Now.

My head peers through the door, curious to know what’s happening. I see the Daniel with the girl… tangled in each other’s arms as they stumble through the living room. Their lips meet in a frenzy, as if they can’t get enough of each other. She tangles her hands in his blonde hair, and he slides his arm around her waist,

bringing her closer to him. She takes that opportunity to wraps her legs around his hips and continues to shove her tongue down his throat.

I’m no longer breathing. The bat drops from my hand to the floor with a thud.

The both of them gasp for air, and the girl- Brittany- starts trailing kisses from his jaw down to his neck. Daniel doesn’t stop her, although from the way he looks, he’s trying very hard to fight it.

She tears her mouth away for a heartbeat to tug off Daniel’s shirt. He doesn’t help her pull it off, in fact, he doesn’t seem to want his clothes pulled off at all.

“I can’t- stop.” Daniel pulls away from her as fast as lightning and Brittany drops to the couch. She stares at him with disbelief.

“What the fuck, Daniel?” Her eyes glows red.

“I can’t do this,” he runs his fingers through his hair and then straightens his shirt. “You need to leave.”

“You’re fucking serious right now?” She gasps, “you were the one who invited me over in the first place!”

“Well, change of plans,” Daniel shrugs, avoiding eye contact with her. “Get out.”

She rolls her eyes. “You are fucking unbelievable.” She buttons the top of her blouse and gets up from the couch.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do this with you when I’m trying to get over someone else.” He sighs in frustration. “It’s not fair to you.”

Trying to get over someone else? I thought to myself. He doesn’t mean...

Brittany just ignores him and heads over to the door. “Whatever. Don’t call me. Ever again.”

“Wasn’t planning on it.”

She rolls her eyes again and leaves the penthouse.

My mouth gapes open in shock. Daniel... dismissing sex? That’s a first.

He leans against the door, staring at it for a long time before drawing a deep breath. At that moment, he looks so broken, so unsure of himself.

As if he knows I’m looking, his head lifts and find me peeking out from my door. His blue eyes hold mine, and for a long time, we just stare at each other, unsure of what to say.

“You saw that?” Daniel asks softly.

I can only nod. My hand presses against the door, pushing it open.

He chuckles, not there isn’t any humor in it. “You liked seeing that? Me getting tortured like that?”

“What?” I squeak. What is he talking about? Tortured?

He looks down, shaking his head, “I’m a fucking goner, Alex,” his voice cracks when he says that, “I can’t think straight. I can’t fucking look at a girl without thinking about you. I can’t kiss her without wanting to devour your lips. I can’t even touch her without picturing how it would feel to have your skin against mine.” I suck in a sharp breath.

“It’s been fucking hell for me, and you don’t even know that because you’re living in fucking nirvana with Nate.” He says, barely a whisper.

His words cut me straight through my heart. I didn’t know Daniel has been this way.

I did this to him. I don’t want him to feel that way.

“I broke up with Nate.” I blurt out.

He blinks rapidly, unable to process what I had just said. “What?”

“Yeah,” I lean against the doorframe, crossing my arms. “I... broke up with him. It’s about time anyway. And you were right. Absolutely right. I couldn’t keep lying to myself that I have feelings for him.”

The tears start falling in in unsteady rhythm. I wipe them away, trying to stay strong. But the feelings overwhelm me so much I crouch down on the floor.

“I’m a fucking mess,” I sniff. “And a horrible person. I let Nate into thinking I had feelings for him and went into the relationship freaking blind for my feelings for you. And I hate myself for it. It’s disgusting.”

Daniel’s face softens. He walks over to me and sits down on the spot beside me. He reaches to my face and cups my cheeks, his fingers wiping my fallen tears.

“You should hate me, Daniel. Hate me for doing that to you. Hate me and never talk to me again. Because I deserve it.”

“No.” He shakes his head. “I used to be angry at you, but in a way I get you. I used to be a horrible person and that scared you when you realize you have feelings for me. But instead of confronting your feelings, you went with Nate instead.. And that may have hurt him, but it hurt you even more.”

I nod my head. “I don’t want to be this person anymore, Daniel. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I want to be better. And I will be. I want to be better for me. For you.”

He smiles crookedly. “I’ll help you.”

I sigh, leaning against his shoulder. He takes that opportunity to slide a hand around my waist to pull me closer. “You have always helped me, Daniel. Thank you for that.”

“No problem, sweetheart.”

We stay like that for a long time, neither of us wanting to talk any further. That’s when I realize that we may fight and talk and do stupid things, but when we’re together

We can mend each other.

The next morning, my heart feels lighter than ever. I think it’s because I finally have everything in check. Even though my break up with Nate was hurt donkey ass, I didn’t regret it one bit. I needed to break myself out from the illusion that being with Nate would be perfect.

After getting dressed, I stand in front of my bookshelf with my sling bag, contemplating on which book should I read today. I have been in a reading slump lately, and I desperately need a book that can get me out of it.

My fingers dance along the spines of the books, aching to hold one in my hand. I decide to pick up one of the Game of Thrones books when I see it.

The book is creased.

And not just a mild crease, the spine has several deep creases on it, severely damaging the entire book.

I’m stare at it puzzled. I would never EVER crease the spines of my books. Not even if my life depended on it. So, there is no way this could be my book-

My bookmark is sticking out of the pages, along with several post-it notes stuck in the middle of them.

Yep. That’s definitely my book.

I take a step back and examine the rest of my books. Sure enough, there are several other paperbacks that have been creased.

WHAT EVEN.

Anger crawls into my chest. Who the hell would come into my room and crease the fuck out of my books?

“KEEEERRRRINGTONNNNNNNN!” I shriek, my feet stamping unto the ground.

I burst out of the room with the stack of creased books in my hands. Trudging down the stairs, I set the books down on the kitchen counter where he’s making pancakes. The abrupt sound startles him temporarily, causing him to not catch his pancakes mid-air. The pancakes fall flat unto the ground.

“Fuck!” Daniel curses, then glares at me. “What the shit is wrong with you? I was on a high roll here!”

I gesture to the stack of books. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”

“WHAT THE FUCK IS- oh.” Daniel gulps nervously. “Oh shit.”

“YOU CREASED MY BOOKS!” I yell, waving my hands all over the place. I don’t care if I look weird, I’m so mad at him right now. “YOU FREAKING CREASED THEM! What is WRONG with YOU?”

“Well... it was an accident.” Daniel tries to justify himself, “I mean in the beginning it wasn’t but-”

“WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? YOU CAN’T JUST ACCIDENTALLY STUMBLE UNTO

MY BOOKSHELF, ACCIDENTALLY PICK SOME RANDOM BOOKS AND THEN ACCIDENTALLY CREASED THEM?”

“CALM DOWN, WOMAN!” Daniel tells me, his eyes wide with horror. “Calm the FUCK DOWN-”

“Don’t you DARE tell me to calm down!” I shriek at him, my anger boiling. “You creased my books! Do you even know how much they’re worth? How much I care

about these? They’re not cheap, Daniel! They’re freaking expensive! SO why on EARTH did you want to FUCKING CREASE THEM?”

Daniel looks down, his ears pink, “Because I was mad at you.”

“THE FUCK FOR?”

“The whole Nate thing!” He says, avoiding eye contact with me. “Yesterday, before you came home, I was pissed alright? I told you I couldn’t stand thinking about you with him. Then, I remembered the rules we established and the consequences should we ever break them.”

I groan. “So, because I went out with Nate, you PUNISHED ME by CREASING MY BOOKS.”

“Hey! You can’t blame me!” He defends quickly, “You broke the rules, remember? Do not get involved with other people?”

“Oh my god!” I say baffled, “You do realize that you’re a fucking hypocrite right now? You hooked up with those girls during Halloween remember? SO YOU BROKE THE RULES TOO.”

He pauses as if that had never occurred to him.

“You shithead,” I sank down unto the kitchen counter chairs, burying my face in my hands. “You stupid stupid shithead-”

“Fuck,” He swears under his breath, “That had never occurred to me at all.”

I lift my head up and glare at him some more. “I can’t fucking believe you.” I snatch a book from the stack next to me. “THIS is LIMITED EDITION. I saved up for two months so I can buy it on Amazon!”

Before Daniel can say anything else, I take another book out. “And this? This is a signed copy of one of my favourite books from my FAVOURITE AUTHOR, Cassandra Clare!” Then, I take another one, “This, is FUCKING HARDCOVER. It’s a hardcover book! How the hell did you even manage to crease that?!” He’s absolutely speechless.

I shove the books away and hide in my hands. “And I thought after last night... we were fine again. AND THEN YOU WENT AND PULL THIS SHIT.”

“I’m sorry, you have no idea,” Daniel sits beside me, his face inches from mine. His eyes drop, and I can tell he really is sorry. “I didn’t mean to... Fuck. I got caught in the moment. I’m fucking sorry. I’ll get you new books. I’ll scour through every bookstore and get you brand new copies. I promise.”

I’m almost ready to forgive him. Just almost. But there is something I need to do first to fuel my anger.

“No,” I shake my head.

"No?” He stares at me, puzzled.

“No.” I repeat again. “You destroyed what is precious to me. And now...” I eye his car keys sitting on the kitchen counter. “I’m going to destroy what is yours.”

Daniel sees me eyeing his keys. He immediately stands up, a look of fury crossing his face. “You wouldn’t.” I smile mysteriously.

“Alex.” He says my name with caution. “Don’t-” I snatch his keys and bolt towards the door.

“COME BACK HERE!” He screams.

“Rules are rules!” I call after him before racing down to the carpark to get his car.

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